Scientology’s Grand Scheme of Greed Was Kickstarted by the 9/11 Attacks — St. Pete Times


It’s here — part 3 of the new St. Petersburg Times blockbuster series about the extreme pressure Scientology puts on its members to donate money.

And we’re thrilled to see this video of Synthia Fagen anchoring the report about the International Association of Scientologists and its constant begging for cash.

It was Fagen who alerted us this week to that fly new hip hop video put out by the Copenhagen branch of the IAS. If you haven’t seen it yet, you really must.

There’s a lot to absorb in this new installment in the series, which focuses on the IAS’s hard-sell tactics, as well as the “Ideal Org” building boom.

And here’s another unsavory detail: If Scientology has always been money-mad, the pressures of the last decade have been off the charts as church leader David Miscavige decided to use the 9/11 attacks as a new call to action.

The push for new cash has meant both more buildings and huge reserves for the IAS:

The Ideal Orgs drive has more than doubled the church’s real estate holdings worldwide in terms of square footage. And the IAS has collected at least $250 million just since 2006, according to a Times analysis of the organization’s published membership rosters.

Fagen told the Times that she left the church in 2009 after the push for money just became too much:

Church members were getting multiple calls each day — a dozen, two dozen, sometimes many more, Fagen said, echoing numerous others interviewed for this story. Workers from various church entities called, each with their own quotas, cajoling and pestering.

Tobin and Childs also smartly pointed out that all of this high-pressure fundraising runs afoul of the best practices of the country’s more legitimate tax-exempt organizations. In an informative sidebar, they point out that normal non-profits bend over backwards to show exactly how much money they raise and how it is spent. Even donors of large amounts in Scientology are told little about how their money is spent, and they don’t receive financial reports from the church.

The St. Pete Times series is as explosive as we hoped it would be, and we are looking forward to even more installments. (We’re going to stop predicting how many more are coming, and when, given our miserable track record so far.) But we also wanted to mention something we meant to days ago: Mike Rinder added his own remarkable contribution to the series with something he wrote at Marty Rathbun‘s blog.

In the piece, Rinder talks about how the IAS catered to Miscavige’s expensive tastes. But it was what he said about “The Basics” that really caught my eye:

We had a time machine order from Miscavige to get a book done EACH DAY. It also included putting together a glossary for each book. This of course was insane, made doubly so by the fact that Jon [Horwich] and I were spending almost as much time answering questions from Miscavige’s personal staff and his other sycophants demanding to know what we had done and whether we would “meet the TM” as we were working on the books. In the end, people were assigned to stand over us to keep us awake – we were sleeping a maximum of 2 hours a nite…

That’s quite a different picture than the one Miscavige gave at the 2007 gala when he introduced the book project. He made it sound like teams of scholars had been working Hubbard’s books for months. Sounds like he may have been more interested in rapidly putting together a set of materials he could sell for $3,000 a pop than in the textual scholarship he pretended was so important…

Anyway, another great chapter for Tobin and Childs on the irrepressible fundraiser at the IAS. After reading this, the words of the immortal Chill EB now take on a different cast, don’t they?

We the unstoppable flood.
See, cuz we the IAS.

UPDATE: We have found it curious that the St. Pete Times is so tight-lipped about the schedule of its series. But today, we were given an explanation which might make a lot of sense. We’re told by our Clearwater-area readers that on the mornings that a new installment in the series comes out, Sea Org members are mobilized before dawn to buy up every loose copy of the newspaper in order to keep the larger public from seeing the articles. In the age of the Internet, this doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it might explain why Childs and Tobin’s editors don’t like to tip off the church too far in advance.

If it’s true that Scientologists are out before dawn buying up piles of papers, I sure would like to get video of it!

The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#1: L. Ron Hubbard
#2: David Miscavige
#3: Marty Rathbun
#4: Tom Cruise
#5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin
#6: Anonymous
#7: Mark Bunker
#8: Mike Rinder
#9: Jason Beghe
#10: Lisa McPherson
#11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants)
#12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives)
#13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists)
#14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists)
#15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics)
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church’s HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church’s other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord

Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he’s been writing about Scientology at several publications.

@VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega


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